Regardless of size, companies rely on human capital to function and provide value to their stakeholders. An employee who is a good fit for your company can increase productivity, customer satisfaction and the quality of services delivered.
In the textiles industry, workforce shortages and the challenges of how to make the workforce grow is a main concern for most companies. The loss of an experienced workforce as many industry experts near retirement, coupled with a highly competitive labor market, mean companies must be prepared to act quickly when the need to add talent to their team arises. Being prepared includes having accurate job descriptions, well-planned interview questions and a structure for the interview already in place.
Job descriptions are key
Getting the right talent on your team starts with a well-developed job description. It’s the foundation for recruiting key talent. Job descriptions are used to write job opening advertisements, develop interview questions and provide employees with clear expectations.
Effective job descriptions should, at a minimum, include these items:
• Job title (be realistic)
• A brief summary of the job
• Responsibilities, tasks and duties
• Required knowledge, skills and abilities
• Essential functions of the job
• Legal disclaimers
The minimum requirements listed on the job description must reflect what is needed to perform the job. Be clear about these requirements and ensure they reflect what the job requires and are not “like to have” qualifications. If your job description states a minimum educational requirement followed by “or equivalent education and experience,” consider rephrasing it to define the equivalent.
For example, the minimum requirement could be defined as a bachelor’s degree or an associate degree and 10 years of related experience. Unclear minimum requirements could leave your potential candidates guessing about what you need, which may affect whether they decide to apply for the position. Also, if your requirements are not clear and specific, candidates without the minimum requirements may submit applications, which is a waste of everybody’s time.
Develop interview questions for critical KSAs
Preparing for the interview is the most crucial step of the interview process. Interviewers should use the job description to develop interview questions that will help them decide if the candidate is the right fit for your team. The questions should give you the necessary information to determine if your candidate has mastered the required knowledge, skills and abilities (KSAs) and knows how to apply them on the job.
Here are some common KSAs and sample interview questions to consider using during the hiring process:
• Tell me about a situation where you were required to verbally explain a complex plan to a supplier.
• Give an example of a time that you had to communicate a major change to your team.
• Describe a situation where you used your customer service skills to change a customer’s experience from a negative experience to a positive one.
• Tell me about a time when a customer requested something that was impossible. How did you address this situation?
• Share an experience that required your team to work together to solve a problem.
• Tell me about a situation where someone on your team was not fully engaged. How did you address this situation?
Leading a team
• Explain a situation in which you had to coach a team member to achieve improved job performance.
• Tell me about a time that you led a goal-setting initiative with your team. What process did you use? Describe the outcome.
Adapting to change
• In our organization, we often must deal with last-minute changes. Describe the most frustrating last-minute change you had to implement.
• Describe a time that you had to make an unpopular decision.
• Tell me about a time that you had to make a very complex decision.
The key is to focus on questions that demonstrate past performance. A person’s past behavior is the best predictor of future performance. Don’t ask what they will do; ask what they have done.
Avoid asking the standard interview questions such as, “Where do you want to be in five years?” or “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” These questions will generate dialogue but may not give you the information you need to make a great hiring decision.
Match the interview style to the job
Interviews are the best method to determine if a candidate is a good fit for your organization. There are two distinct styles of interviews: structured and unstructured. An unstructured interview is more like a free-flowing conversation. A structured interview has well-thought-out questions designed to provide information about the candidate’s knowledge, skills and abilities. There are advantages and disadvantages to both styles of interviewing.
• Comfortable format for both the interviewer and the candidate.
• No preprepared questions. The interviewer is free to ask questions and explore topics.
• Hard to compare candidates.
• Questions may not be focused on the needed KSAs.
• Each candidate is asked the same questions.
• Focused on identifying the KSAs of the candidate.
• Easy to compare candidates.
• The formal style may make the candidate uncomfortable.
• The interviewer may feel “rushed” to cover all the questions.
Regardless of the interview style, preparing for the interview takes time and is crucial to finding an appropriate hire. Although preparing for candidate interviews involves commonsense activities, many times these are rushed through or overlooked:
• Review the candidate’s resume or application.
• If you are using a structured interview, review the previously developed questions and determine the order in which you will ask them.
• If you are using an unstructured interview, identify items from the application or resume that you would like to discuss.
Interviewing day success
Conduct the interview in an area that is comfortable for both the candidate and the interviewer. When candidates arrive for the interview, take a few minutes to develop rapport and make them feel comfortable. Ask your questions and allow candidates to respond without interruption while observing any nonverbal behavior. Ask follow-up questions for clarification to gain better insight into their answers. Take notes, especially if you are interviewing multiple candidates. You might need to refer to these later. Be prepared for questions that the candidate may have about your organization. Once the interview has concluded, let the candidate know the next steps and approximately how long it will be before a hiring decision will be made.
Rita Revels has more than 25 years of human resources experience and is currently the president and CEO of the Employers Network, a private not-for-profit employers association located in South Carolina. She is a graduate of Spartanburg Community College and the University of South Carolina Upstate.
Labor shortages continue
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 47 million Americans quit their jobs in 2021, an unprecedented mass exit from the workforce. Possible causes include wage stagnation, job dissatisfaction, safety concerns during the COVID-19 pandemic and the desire for better remote-working policies.
The 2022 State of the Industry Report by the Advanced Textiles Association (formerly IFAI) found that half of the nearly 300 respondents continue to have trouble filling both full- and part-time positions.